Monday, December 31, 2007
Women in War - Andree "DeDee" de Jongh
Few citizens were more courageous, inventive and important to the World War II resistance effort than Countess Andree "DeDee" de Jongh member of the Belgian Resistance and organizer of the Comet Line. (picture above, 1941)
Kudos to the Magazine Section of the New York Times Website for yesterday's excellent story about Ms. de Jongh written by Sara Corbett. Too often the majority of war movies and historical documentaries or news serials produced throughout the 20th century tend to emphasize the roles of generals, admirals, captains and everyday soldiers immersed in the infinite particulars of the business of warfare.
For the most part the media has tended to portray war as man's business. Despite the wide range of critical roles woman of many nations have played in both World Wars, it's the men we tend to see on the wide screen or the television - too often the stories of people like Andree "DeDee" de Jongh sit quietly in the shadows of the spotlights of history.
In one form or another, intelligence, counter-insurgency, sabotage and guerrilla warfare have been a part of war since mankind first engaged in this unique endeavor.
Members of the resistance from various countries throughout the European theater of operations during World War II played essential roles in most if not all the major battles fought between the Allies and the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Vichy France and the Japanese Empire.
"DeDee" de Jongh, then a 24-year-old nurse helped to organize the Comet Line, a 600-mile long secret route of safe-houses, churches, dangerous railway trips and smugglers paths developed in cooperation with many citizens from Belgium, France, Spain and other countries to escort downed allied pilots, escaped POWS's and others to safety in Spain and England.
She risked her life to help those who fought to destroy the armies of the Third Reich and a madman who led a nation to murder millions to fulfill a warped vision of an "Aryan" society built on mythical ideals of racial superiority. She helped over 400 Allies escape to safety during the war, personally escorting 118 of them herself. Her father Paul de Jongh was betrayed by a traitor in the resistance movement and eventually executed by the Gestapo.
Ms. de Jongh herself was later betrayed and captured in a farmhouse as she was escorting allied men to safety. She was interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo who eventually let her go after she confessed to being the organizer of the Comet Line - they did not believe her.
Those who looked at her 100 pound frame and dismissed her as an 18 year-old school girl truly didn't understand the power of her character; you can't judge a book by it's cover - our vision and our choices and actions shape the reality we see.
Andree Eugenie Adrienne "DeDee" de Jongh's amazing life is proof positive of that, when she left this life back in October, 2007 she left the world and our collective culturegeist a better place.
If you want to learn more details about the Comet Line and the soldiers involved check out www.belgiumww2.info